Poulenc: Nocturnes; Five Impromptus; Promenades

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LABELS: Chandos
WORKS: Nocturnes; Five Impromptus; Promenades
PERFORMER: Eric Parkin (piano)
The third volume of Eric Parkin’s survey of Poulenc’s piano music has been some time coming, but should be welcomed no less warmly for that. The ‘major’ works of this delightful collection are the Promenades and the eight Nocturnes. The latter, which were composed over a space of about ten years, are not exactly a cycle, but they do possess a certain collective integrity. As such, they stand as one of Poulenc’s most important contributions to piano literature, and, as elsewhere, Parkin manages to charm through his ability to make the music sound effortless.


There are also some genuine rarities, such as the transcriptions of the Rondeau and Andantino from Les biches or the Intermède and Caprice based on the ‘profane cantata’ Le bal masqué. The Caprice is much better-known in its two-piano version, but while an extra pair of hands would make it (and the pieces from Les biches) marginally less frenetic, it is worth remembering that this is not supposed to be ‘safe’ music. The concept behind the Promenades begins to lose its appeal on repeated listening, but for undiminishing skittish innocence, try the short Valse. Christopher Dingle